A quote from Rudolf Steiner, from the first lecture in 'Mysterienwahrheiten und Weihnachtsimpulse, Alte Mythen und ihre Bedeutung' GA 180.
'The meaning of Christmas, which shines through the ages, is associated with the words, “Et incarnatus est de spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine”.
'Most of the people of modern humanity seem to attach just as little significance to these words as they do to the Easter mystery of the Resurrection. We might say that it is as unlikely for modern thought to see the central mystery of Christianity in the resurrection from death, as it seems to modern thought, to modern feeling, to accept the spiritual fact that is connected to the Christmas Mystery: the mystery of the Word becoming flesh, the mystery of the incarnation from the virgin birth. The greater part of modern humanity is much more in sympathy with the natural scientist who describes the virgin birth as “an impertinent mockery of human reason” than with those who desire to take this mystery seriously in a spiritual sense.
'Nevertheless, in a Christian sense the mystery of the incarnation by the Holy Spirit through the Virgin has been valid since the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. In another sense it already was valid before this event. Those who brought the symbolic gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh to the child, lying in the manger, had read in the stars, through the ancient science dating back thousands of years about the Christmas mystery of the virgin birth. They came, because they had seen the signs of the time. The ‘magi’ – wise men - who brought the gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh were, in the sense of that ancient wisdom, astrologers. They had knowledge of those spiritual processes that occur in the cosmos when certain signs appear in the starry heavens. One such sign was that in the night between December 24 and 25, in the year that we today regard as that of the birth of Jesus, the sun, the great world symbol of the Redeemer, shone down from heaven toward the earth from the constellation of Virgo. They said, “When the constellation of the heavens is such that the sun stands in Virgo in the night between December 24 and 25, then an important change will take place on earth. Then the time will have come for us to bring gold, the symbol of our knowledge of divine guidance, which hitherto we have sought only in the stars, to that impulse which now becomes part of the earthly evolution of mankind; the time to bring the incense, the virtue of sacrifice, which is the symbol of the highest human virtue, to sacrifice it with the force that comes from Christ, who is to be incarnated in that human being to whom we bring the incense as a symbolic offer; and the third gift, myrrh, symbolises what is eternal in man. The eternal, which we have felt for thousands of years to be connected with the forces that speak to us from constellations; we seek it further by bringing it as a gift to him who is to be a new impulse for humanity. Through this we seek our own immortality, in that we unite our own souls with the impulse of Christ Jesus. When the cosmic symbol of world force, the force of the sun, will shine from Virgo, then a new time begins for the earth.”
'This was the belief; it had been seen in this way, for thousands of years. And as the magi knelt to lay at the feet of the Holy Child the wisdom of the Divine, the sense of virtue of man, and the feeling for human immortality, symbolically expressed in the gold, incense, and myrrh, something was repeated as a historical event that had been expressed symbolically in innumerable mysteries and in countless sacrificial rituals for thousands of years, where there had been a prophetic indication of the event that would take place when at midnight between December 24 and 25 the sun would stand in the sign of the Virgin, to offer gold, incense, and myrrh to the symbolic divine child in ancient temples, as the representation of the sun.
'Thus speaks in a Christian way the “Et incarnatus de spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine” for almost two Millennia, and so it has been ever since human thought has existed on the earth.’
Ravenna, mosaic from the 6th centuryTwelve days by Mieke Mosmuller